The pair of plays that flew in from Mumbai recently weren’t good advertisements for Mumbai’s theatre. Ikigai & Co’s punningly-titled Gā Re Mā (presented by Showhouse) at least had the potential of exploring diverse musical forms considered as mutually irreconcilable. A Hindustani classical vocalist cannot understand her son, a small-time DJ creating sampled electronic dance music, while her former schoolmate, a gospel singer, has returned from England with her own rebellious son, who has a knack for improvising hip-hop couplets. But the feel-good script by Adhir Bhat and Siddharth Kumar doesn’t rock the boat because we can predict from pretty early on that everything ends hunky-dory. Yet the deal that the two sons finally seal is only for a promotional jingle – what a comedown in terms of aesthetic statement, trivializing the art of music!
Ruturaj Shinde (the DJ petrified of his mother) and Danny Sura (the British boy with a history of substance abuse) gave natural performances. However, the much-hyped stage comeback of Suneeta Rao (the NRI mother) and the role of Bharati Achrekar (the Indian mother) hardly challenged these stars. Further, each sang live just once, disappointing music enthusiasts, something that director Anahita Uberoi could rectify. Aseem Hattangady acted different peripheral characters, which demonstrated his variety, but Zayn Marie Khan (the British son’s love interest) had really no part, evidently included to fill someone’s perceived need for a romance.
Felicity Theatre’s Wrong Number (presented by Sanskriti Sagar) scored even lower, with its run-of-the-mill farce about an extramarital affair between the boss’s wife and his driver. The boss suspects nothing, whereas the driver’s spouse suspects everything. To force a complication, a third couple – another employee and wife – get invited to dinner at both homes on successive evenings.
The text, borrowed from an unacknowledged Marathi source in the 1980s, showed its age, because Wrong Number’s premise lies in impossibly outdated telephony. The adulterous wife calls her lover on his landline – can we believe this today? Even though the new adaptor tried to explain it with the information that the driver doesn’t get a good connection on his cell at home, the latter blew it by telling her that he can never remember under what false name he has saved her number in his mobile. Incredible.
Thus, massive waste of talent occurred on this pointless merry-go-round. Delnaaz Irani (Mrs Driver) fared best with her cheerful belligerence, while Rakesh Bedi (the boss) did his usual comedic turns as a man with chronic amnesia. Kishwar Merchant exhibited quick reflexes as his wife, thinking on her feet. But Rahul Bhuchar (the driver) and Avtar Gill (the other employee) may safely drop this production from their CVs. The poverty of Raman Kumar’s direction was illustrated by the third couple wearing the same clothes at the parties on consecutive nights, Gill making an absurd attempt to disguise it by donning a jacket for the first occasion.
(From The Times of India, 28 December 2018)